The first day Ashley Davis ever threw a shot put, Live Oak assistant track coach Ron Holden could see he had something special.
Davis knew nothing about throwing the shot put, relying merely on brute strength as Holden, who coaches Live Oak’s throwers, watched her muscle the shot 30 feet during an early season practice three years ago.
Holden believed the freshman’s throws that day to be, unofficially, record marks for a Live Oak athlete.
“By the time you graduate,” Holden recalled telling Davis, “you’re going to win a state title.”
Holden never imagined, though, how soon her time would come.
Or how often.
Davis won her first state championship in the shot put at the Class 5A outdoor meet that spring, then won outdoor state titles again as a sophomore and junior. She also won two state indoor championships, the first as a sophomore and then again as a senior.
If she finishes her Live Oak career with another state outdoor title in the shot put this spring, Davis will become the rare high school athlete to win outdoor state championships in the same event in all four tries.
“She can set a record this year that can never be broken,” Holden said of winning four state titles in as many years. “It can be tied, but it can never be broken.”
Davis said the fear of failing to finish what she started is part of what drives her as she pursues another shot put title.
“It would be very disappointing,” Davis said, “because I’m working so hard to get to where I’m supposed to be. All my hard work would not have paid off if I don’t win.”
Davis routinely exceeds 40 feet with her throws these days.
During the Sport-N-Center Livingston Parish Relays on March 21 at Live Oak, she threw 41-9 to eclipse the meet record by nearly four feet.
Her throw of 43-01.25 to win the indoor state championship in February set a Division I meet record.
Combining her performances in the shot put at the indoor and outdoor state meets, Davis has won first five times and finished second once.
“I never thought I was going to come this far when I was a freshman,” Davis said.
Davis said she had never even heard of the shot put before meeting Holden, who noticed in her the kind of strength and explosiveness he knew would translate to track and field’s throwing events. After watching her play basketball in middle school, Holden recruited the youngster out of the Live Oak hallways.
It was clear early on that Davis had found her niche.
“She has the unique combination of being extremely strong and being extremely explosive,” Holden said.
The good-natured Davis has succeeded as a thrower without exhibiting what Holden calls a “football mentality” when she steps into the pit.
“She’s probably the most well-liked kid in the school,” Holden said. “Her one single flaw is that you can’t make her angry.”
When her pursuit of another state championship in May has ended, Davis plans to continue her career in track and field at the college level.
Southeastern Louisiana leads the list of schools Davis is considering.
But Holden hopes that a state title this spring in the discus could be in the offing for Davis as well.
Davis finished third at the state outdoor meet in the discus last year with a throw of 112-11 after finishing second in the event as a sophomore. She was fourth at state in the discus as a freshman.
Denham Springs’ Abigail O’Donoghue sets meet record
Denham Springs track and field star Abigail O’Donoghue joined Davis in making meet history at the Livingston Parish Relays.
O’Donoghue broke a meet record in the girls high jump that had stood for 32 years when she skied 5 feet, 6.25 inches to win the event. Teresa Babin of Denham set the previous meet record in 1984 with a jump of 5-6.
O’Donoghue also won the triple jump with a mark of 32-10.75 and finished second to Walker’s Brooklyn Giovingo in the javelin.
Davis won the discus with a throw of 111-1 to go with her record-setting shot put title.
Holden’s Victoria Richardson also had a big day at the meet as she won the triple jump and the 100-meter hurdles in the small-school division.
The Denham Springs girls were first in the big-schools team competition, followed by Walker, second, and Live Oak, third. Springfield’s girls won the small-school division with Holden finishing second and Doyle coming in third.
On the boys side, Walker was the big-school champ ahead of second-place Denham and third-place Live Oak. Springfield won the small-school title with Holden second and Maurepas third.
Thomas Kelton of Denham Springs swept the distance events by winning the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, while Walker’s Landon Harper took top honors in the triple jump and the 300 hurdles.
Springfield’s Keenan Austin (triple jump, 300 hurdles) and Holden’s John Sharp (1,600 and discus) were double winners in the small-school division.
Guillory named 9-2A’s MVP
Doyle basketball player Ryan Guillory earned district MVP honors in 9-2A after leading the Tigers to a 20-14 overall mark and 6-2 record in league play. Daniel Kennedy of Doyle was named the district’s Coach of the Year.
Guillory had 15 points for Doyle in its loss to North Caddo in the second round of the playoffs.
Other highlights for Livingston Parish in all-district voting:
In boys basketball, Walker’s Dalton Moore, Jacobi Scott and Darius Hampton and Denham Springs’ Torez Kinchen and Tori Odom represented the parish on the All-District 4-5A first team; and Sean Sykes and Dylan Hoyt, who helped lead Albany to the 7-3A title, were part of the All-7-3A first team.
The girls All-District 4-5A first team included Lexi McMorris and Tremeeka Spikes of state runner-up Denham Springs, Nicholls State signee Keeona Brown of Walker and Presley Wascom of Live Oak. Shelly Laprarie of Denham was the district’s Co-Coach of the Year, along with Zachary’s Mike Stephens.
Albany’s Mahogany Williams and Hannah Vicknair were members of 9-3A’s all-district first team with Stacy Darouse as the Co-Coach of the Year.
Class B state champion Holden dominated the 7B all-district first team, led by district MVP Sydney Hayden and Coach of the Year Pam Forbes. Kaylee Hughes, Amanda Fekete and Kaitlyn Kropog joined Hayden on the first team.
District MVP Lacy Loupe, Best Defensive Player Brailie Gautreau and Coach of the Year Brittany Lauzervich led Maurepas in the 8C voting, with Keegan Marchand, Kiah Barthelemy and Braqelle Picou joining Loupe and Gautreau on the all-district first team.